Benediction

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I’ve been thinking a lot about benedictions lately, as my coworkers and I prepare for our final workshop with the pastors in the second group of Spirited Life. It is our task, in a very real way, to offer a benediction, a “good proclamation,” not only for our time together at the workshop, but for all the work that the pastors have put in over the two years of the program. It feels like such a great privilege to pronounce blessing, especially to pastors who spend their days doing just that (among many other things, of course!) and our staff is eager to do it well, thus there have been many resources shared between us recently. There are a plethora of benediction resources out there, from the UM Book of Worship, to contemporary poems and prayers. I thought I’d share a couple of my personal favorites here:

John O’Donohue, Irish teacher and poet, has been widely praised for his gift of drawing on Celtic spiritual traditions to create words of inspiration and wisdom for today. In To Bless the Space Between Us, his compelling blend of elegant, poetic language and spiritual insight offers readers comfort and encouragement on their journeys through life. O’Donohue looks at life’s thresholds—getting married, having children, starting a new job—and offers invaluable guidelines for making the transition from a known, familiar world into a new, unmapped territory. Most profoundly, however, O’Donohue explains “blessing” as a way of life, as a lens through which the whole world is transformed.

  • Carol Penner is a Mennonite worship leader and writer, though people of all denominations will find her accessible. Her website is a wealth of worship resources of all kinds.  On her site you will find benedictions for particular holy days, as well as general blessings.  I particularly love her benediction titled “Pitched, Peeled and Poised:”

Go into your week
with your ears pitched
to the sound of God’s voice calling your name.
Go into your week
with your eyes peeled
for the face of Jesus in unexpected places.
Go into your week
with your soul poised
to receive the Spirit of God,
the Spirit of Peace.

  • St. Patrick’s Breastplate is a much-loved prayer popularly attributed to the famed patron saint of Ireland.  It has been transposed into a hymn, but is lovely on it’s own as a blessing It is not traditionally used as a benediction, but with it’s strong language evoking praise and the abiding presence of God, I think it makes for a powerful one. It’s long, but some of my favorite lines include:

I arise today, through
The strength of heaven,
The light of the sun,
The radiance of the moon,
The splendor of fire,
The speed of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of the sea,
The stability of the earth,
The firmness of rock.
I arise today, through
God’s strength to pilot me,
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptation of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and near.

  • There is a lovely video benediction for churches who use multimedia based on the Romans 15:13 prayer at WorshipHouse Media.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

6371421595_c96267e7b8_zGo in peace to love and serve the Lord!

Caren Swanson

Images by flickr users cknara and nffcnnr via Creative Commons.

 

2 thoughts on “Benediction

  1. I really like the benediction that closes every day of morning prayer from Common Prayer by Jonanthan Wilson-Hartgrove, Shane Claiborne, and Enuma Okoro.

    May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you : wherever he may send you;
    may he guide you through the wilderness : protect you through the storm;
    may he bring you home rejoicing : at the wonders he has shown you;
    may he bring you home rejoicing : once again into our doors.

    http://commonprayer.net/

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